Police at the site where a rocket fired by Hezbollah in Lebanon hit and caused damage in the northern Israeli town of Katzrin, June 13, 2024. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.
  • Words count:
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Headline
Responding to Hezbollah’s strategic offensive
Intro
By acting slowly and deliberately, Israel can learn as it goes, adapting its operations to the conditions it discovers on the ground.
text

Hezbollah is burning a swathe through northern Israel. The nature reserves, grazing land, fields and orchards are burning to the ground. Military bases, including several strategic assets, are incurring major damage. More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed. Businesses are bankrupt. And some 80,000 Israelis are living in hotels with no sense of when they may be able to go home.

Hezbollah has significantly increased the pace and lethality of its attacks on the Upper and Western Galilee, and the Golan Heights in recent weeks, as well as extended its attacks to the Mount Carmel area and the Jezreel Valley.

Haifa, Acre and Tiberias have all been subjected to missile, drone and rocket assaults. During Shavuot on Wednesday, Hezbollah shot more than 200 projectiles at Israel. On Thursday, more than 100 more continued and expanded the fires, destruction and mayhem.

The Israel Defense Forces claim that Hezbollah’s actions haven’t broken the mold of tit-for-tat assaults that Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging for the past eight months. On Tuesday night, the Israeli Air Force carried out an airstrike on the Nasser Unit of Hezbollah’s southern command. The Nasser unit is a division-sized formation responsible for Hezbollah’s operations along the border with Israel.

The unit’s commander, Taleb Sami Abdullah, and three of his senior staff were killed in the raid. The IDF’s claim that Hezbollah’s massive missile, drone and rocket barrages on Wednesday and Thursday, and into Friday, are a tit-for-tat supports Hezbollah’s line that its massive aggression is a legitimate reaction to Abdullah’s assassination.

The IDF’s claim is, to be sure, self-defeating. But that’s not the main problem.

The main problem with the IDF’s assertion is that it ignores the strategic logic of Hezbollah’s operations. Hezbollah isn’t attacking in response to any specific Israeli operation. It is attacking to achieve its strategic goals. Hezbollah isn’t simply abusive; it is waging a strategic war with clear long-term and intermediate strategic objectives.

Hezbollah began shelling Israel with drones, anti-tank rockets and missiles on Oct. 8. It has maintained and slowly escalated its attacks since then. Far from reactive, Hezbollah’s moves are ends-driven. From one assault to the next, Hezbollah learns more about penetrating Israel’s defenses. Its escalatory cycle is a function of its learning curve.

Enabling Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon

What are the goals that Hezbollah uses its projectile campaign to achieve? Hezbollah’s ultimate goal is that of its Iranian overlord: Israel’s annihilation. But it has intermediate goals on the road to final victory. The first is to achieve operational control over northern Israel. Such control, Hezbollah and Iran assess, will force Israel to capitulate on the strategic battlefield. If Hezbollah’s anti-tank rockets, drones and missiles are able to cancel Israel’s ability to defend northern Israel, then Israel will be forced to capitulate on the issue of formal sovereignty at the negotiating table in order to achieve “quiet.”

The specific “deal” Hezbollah seeks involves Israel’s formal surrender of its sovereignty over Mount Dov, a vast area in the Golan Heights that controls all of northern Israel, including the Gulf of Haifa.

Hezbollah is able to advance its operations because it is protected by a series of actors both within Lebanon and in the international arena. As Lebanon affairs expert Tony Badran has argued convincingly for years, Hezbollah is Iran’s Lebanese foreign legion. It is also Lebanon itself.

Hezbollah controls all aspects of politics and security affairs in the country and much of the economy. Lebanon’s official bodies, its state institutions (including the Lebanese Armed Forces), the parliament, the Central Bank and the government are all fig leaves whose purpose is to hide this basic truth. UNIFIL, the U.N. military force mandated to keep Hezbollah away from the border with Israel, operates at Hezbollah’s pleasure. Its personnel live (and die) at Hezbollah’s pleasure. As a result, not only is the agency incapable of carrying out its mandate, but like the LAF, UNIFIL’s continued presence along the border shields Hezbollah forces and assets from the IDF.

Under Hezbollah’s control, Lebanon is not an actual country. It is Iran’s forward military base against Israel that happens to have 5.5 million residents. The job of the residents is to deny that they live in an Iranian missile base.

Fire in Kfar Szold, Hezbollah Attack
View of a large fire that started by missiles launched from Lebanon near Kibbutz Kfar Szold in northern Israel on June 14, 2024. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.

The United Nations, the United States and the European Union are perfectly capable of recognizing the basic truth. But they obstinately refuse to do so. Instead, they enable Hezbollah’s continued control by joining the Lebanese in maintaining the fiction that Lebanon is still a country with state institutions that operate independently of Hezbollah, are in a position to oppose Hezbollah’s actions, and therefore, worthy of U.S. and international monetary and military support. That position allows them to play-act at diplomacy and mediate Israeli surrender deals to Hezbollah’s genocidal aggression while avoiding direct confrontations with either Hezbollah or Iran themselves.

In the face of Hezbollah’s assaults and the protection it enjoys from supporters both within Lebanon and on the world stage, Israel is left with a dilemma. Permitting Hezbollah to achieve its goals would be national suicide. But in order to block Hezbollah from achieving its goals, Israel will once again need to fight a major war against another enemy protected by the international system.

There is also the military challenge. For the past generation, successive IDF General Staffs have embraced the notion that the era of big conventional wars is over. Based on this false, but popular assessment, for 20 years, the General Staff slashed Israel’s ground forces and placed most of Israel’s resources in the air force and other technology-driven units. These forces were directed not towards developing plans to defeat Hamas and Hezbollah, but towards attacking Iran’s nuclear installations, preferably as part of a U.S.-led force. The notion that Israel could gut its strategic independence in exchange for U.S. strategic guarantees dominated Israel’s national security discourse.

However, since Oct. 7, Israel has found itself in a major conventional war on seven fronts: Gaza, Lebanon, Judea and Samaria, the Red Sea, Iran and Iraq/Syria.

While Israel prepared for the war it wanted to fight—a low-cost, high-tech war fought mainly from air-conditioned operations centers by remote control—its enemies prepared for the war they wanted to fight. Namely, that is their war to eliminate Israel. Israel trained hackers, and Hamas and Hezbollah trained jihadist terror armies of murderers, rapists and squads to launch missiles, drones and rockets.

Fighting these armies with Israel’s high-tech force is proving to be extremely difficult. Israel’s assumption of U.S. support has also taken a major hit. To be sure, Washington is willing to support Israel’s efforts to defend itself from aggression along the seven fronts manned by Iran and its proxies. But it opposes Israeli offensive action and has worked actively to undermine Israel’s ability to carry out prolonged offensive operations. Among other things, the United States refuses to share satellite and other intelligence related to offensive objectives, and is placing embargoes or slowwalking the transfer of offensive munitions for Israel’s ground and air forces.

End Hezbollah’s reign of terror

Given the strategic imperative of defeating Hezbollah and preventing it from achieving operational or strategic control over northern Israel, and in light of Israel’s diplomatic weakness relative to Hezbollah (and Hamas) and its operational weaknesses, the question is how should Israel proceed?

The answer begins with the strategic imperative. Israel must end Hezbollah’s reign of terror over northern Israel. It must degrade Hezbollah’s military capacity to the point that Hezbollah is no longer able to strike Israel at will. To achieve this goal, Israel needs to take control over the Lebanese side of the border, destroy Hezbollah’s forces south of the Litani River and then remain in place in Southern Lebanon for the foreseeable future.

Such a goal is, of course, easy to declare. But it is far more difficult to achieve. Realistically, to accomplish this objective, Israel needs to vastly increase the size of its standing and reserve forces, and possess the military-industrial capacity to arm its forces independently. Israel is already working to achieve both of these objectives. However, industrial independence and the enlargement of military forces take time to achieve. And time is of the essence. The residents of the north now scattered in hotels throughout the country cannot be expected to wait years to return to their homes.

Then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s decision to surrender the security zone in Southern Lebanon to Hezbollah in May 2000 is the reason that the terror organization was able to build its forces to the point where it poses an existential threat to Israel’s survival. By committing itself to reversing his move, Jerusalem will place itself on the road to victory. The government will steel the public for the road ahead, and provide the General Staff and lower echelons of the IDF with the required guidance for developing and carrying out tactical missions that will advance Israel’s ultimate goal.

If Israel invades Lebanon with a corps-sized force, it will unify the U.S.-led international community to rally against it. But if it moves slowly, with discrete battles against specific targets, Israel can remain below the radar screens of hostile Western capitals and global institutions. On the surface, Israel can present its operations as mere responses to Hezbollah’s strikes. But just as Hezbollah uses every missile assault as a means to probe and learn how to penetrate Israel’s defenses to advance its strategic goal, so too, by attaching every action to the strategic objective of restoring the security zone in Southern Lebanon, Israel’s operations will be paving stones on the road to strategic victory.

Each move will make the north safer. And each move will undermine Hezbollah’s goals. By acting slowly and deliberately, Israel can learn as it goes, adapting its operations to the conditions that it discovers on the ground, expanding them when political realities allow and constraining them when those realities are more daunting.

To date, most of Israel’s actions in Lebanon have involved killing Hezbollah military commanders like Abdullah. Yet as the Alma Research and Education Center, which specializes in Hezbollah’s operations and capabilities, noted in an analysis of the operation and others like it: “Everyone has a successor.”

“An attempt to remove top officials can only be a supporting endeavor. It is vital and right, but ultimately it is a tactical endeavor with no strategic significance.”

A slowly escalating operation in Lebanon directed towards the strategic aim of ending Hezbollah’s assault on northern Israel and securing Israel’s sovereignty will enable Israel to gradually escalate its operations as its forces are readied and military-industrial independence expanded. It will provide a means to avoid the worst of the international calumny that Israel will surely suffer in a mass invasion while moving Israel steadily towards a strategic goal capable of securing Israel’s vital interests—and survival.

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  • Words count:
    475 words
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  • Publication Date:
    July 23, 2024

Talks between Google and Israeli cybersecurity startup Wiz over a possible $23 billion acquisition have fallen apart, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

If a deal had been reached, it would have represented Google parent company Alphabet's biggest-ever acquisition (scorching the previous record of $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility in 2012).

In an email to employees on Monday, Wiz Chief Executive Assaf Rappaport said the company is now planning an initial public offering.

“Wizards, I know the last week has been intense, with the buzz about a potential acquisition,” he wrote. “While we are flattered by offers we have received, we have chosen to continue on our path to building Wiz.”

Rappaport said Wiz intends to reach $1 billion in annual recurring revenue ahead of the IPO.

Its current annual recurring revenue is half that, the Journal reported.

Still, the company hopes to reach the $1 billion mark within the next year and an IPO in the next few years, a source told the Journal.

The paper noted the companies could return to talks as deals of such scale are unpredictable.

Wiz would have helped Google bolster its cloud computing offerings, a field where it trails the competition, Amazon.com and Microsoft.

Google has shown interest in the Israeli market, in 2013 purchasing Waze for $1.1 billion, creating the Jewish state’s first domestic unicorn (a startup reaching $1 billion in valuation without being listed on the stock market).

While Wiz is headquartered in New York City with nearly a thousand employees scattered across North America and Europe, most of its engineering team is based in Tel Aviv, where the 40-year-old Israeli co-founder and CEO Assaf Rappaport was born.

Since its founding in Israel in 2020, the economic worth of the firm, which offers cybersecurity software for cloud computing, has skyrocketed. The company in May announced a funding round of $1 billion at a staggering $12 billion valuation.

According to Wiz, the company hit $100 million in annual recurring revenue after 18 months and in February of this year reached $350 million in annual recurring revenue, with a 40% market share of Fortune 100 customers.

Wiz already partners with Google and other leading cloud companies, including Amazon and Microsoft.

It plans to hire 400 more people in 2024.

The local Israeli ecosystem consists of 9,000 different high-tech companies including early stage and early growth companies, large enterprises and multinationals. 

Since the start of the war against Hamas in Gaza, triggered by the Palestinian terror group’s Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel, the high-tech sector has worked to maintain its services to global customers and deliver on promises made to investors. 

High-tech professionals launched the #NoMatterWhat campaign shortly after the beginning of the war to send the message that they continue to maintain the highest standards, despite some companies having had up to 20% of their workforces mobilized to serve the country. 

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  • Words count:
    358 words
  • Type of content:
    Update Desk
  • Publication Date:
    July 23, 2024

The Palestinians on Monday reiterated their call to ban Israeli athletes from competing in the Paris Olympics over the Jewish state’s war against Hamas in Gaza, sparked by the terror group’s massacre of 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

The Palestine Olympic Committee (POC) said on Monday that it had sent a letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach, asking him to bar Israel from the international tournament.

According to the POC, the Israelis are in violation of the Olympic Truce due to the war in Gaza.

The letter stated, “Palestinian athletes, particularly those in Gaza, are denied safe passage and have suffered significantly due to ongoing conflict.”

It also claimed that “approximately 400 Palestinian athletes have been killed, and the destruction of sports facilities exacerbates the plight of athletes who are already under severe restrictions.”

The letter additionally cited last week’s International Court of Justice non-binding opinion declaring Israeli “occupation” of Judea and Samaria to be “unlawful.”

Israeli delegation arrives in Paris

The Israeli and Palestinian delegations arrived at the French capital on Monday to prepare for the event.

Before departing for France, Israel Olympic Committee President Yael Arad said at Ben-Gurion International Airport that it was a “victory” for the 88-strong delegation to be heading to the illustrious sports event.

Members of Israel's women's Judo athletes and training team participating in the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games pose for a group picture ahead of departure at the Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, July 22, 2024. Photo by Jorge Novominsky/AFP via Getty Images.

“Our first victory is that we are here and going and that we didn’t give up and have been competing in hundreds of competitions since Oct. 7,” Arad told reporters.

Arad also discussed the increased security for Israeli athletes in Paris.

“It’s no secret that these Olympic Games are a little more difficult for all of us. But we have full confidence in the organization of security,” Arad added.

“We feel like emissaries of the State of Israel,” she said. “Our athletes are here to accomplish their dreams, but there is an additional dimension, that of a national mission.”

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  • Words count:
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An exhibit marking the one-year anniversary of the Hamas massacre will be open to the public on Oct. 7.

The exhibit, sponsored by the Israel Military Intelligence Directorate, will display never-before-seen evidence from the day on which the terrorist group ruling Gaza committed the worst atrocities against Jews since the Holocaust.

The evidence includes weapons used by the terrorists, such as: Bangalore torpedoes for breaching fences and walls; rocket-propelled grenades; AK-47 gas-operated assault rifles; bayonets; thermobaric bombs; hand grenades; and Improvised Explosive Devices.

Also on display are various types of headbands worn by terrorists affiliated with different groups; two of the 350 motorcycles used by the terrorists during their rampage, after they infiltrated southern Israel at 30 different points along the border; and “hostage-taking kits”—replete with zip ties, drug-filled syringes and tasers—found in terrorists’ backpacks.

In addition, there are reams of documents. These include a note found on one of the terrorists in Sderot, which reads, “Commander’s message: Know that this enemy of yours is an incurable disease, except for head decapitation and uprooting hearts and livers," as well as transliterated Hebrew phrases in Arabic letters, such as, "women here," "children here," "take off your pants" and "take off your clothes."

Other documents include a detailed layout of a training area designed to look like a kibbutz, plans for where to kidnap civilians and a map of Kibbutz Be’eri with neighborhoods and homes clearly marked.

The map, which the terrorist on whom it was found attempted to tear up before it was discovered, shows different entry points into the kibbutz—garnered by Gazan laborers with permits who did work on the kibbutz. The purposely targeted area on Be’eri was on the southern side of the kibbutz, where families with young children lived.

Then there is material gathered from inside Gaza. This includes copies of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf in Arabic and proof of terrorists’ employment at UNRWA.

 “What happened on Oct. 7 was a very well-planned massacre, and we captured evidence found in Israeli territory and inside Gaza,” Major “T” told JNS during a preview for journalists. “There are vehicles, weapons, pictures and, of course, video clips filmed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Terrorists.”

The purpose of opening the exhibit to the general public, he said, “is hasbara (public diplomacy) for our allies. It’s important for people to witness what happened, because there’s so much denial surrounding it.”

The exhibit will open on Oct. 7, 2024 at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC) in Ramat Hasharon.

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    July 23, 2024
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Jewish American Actor and comedian Michael Rapaport is preparing for his first full-length stand-up performances in Israel.

The shows are scheduled for October 13 at the Jerusalem Theater and October 14, at Beit Hachayal in Tel Aviv.

Since Oct. 7, Rapaport has become one of Hollywood's most outspoken advocates for Israel.

He joined hundreds of industry colleagues in signing an open letter to President Joe Biden urging the immediate release of the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

Rapaport's solidarity visit to Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre included meetings with hostages' families, social media campaigns and international interviews to promote the captives' release. His itinerary also featured a tour of Kibbutz Be'eri, one of the communities in hardest hit on Oct. 7, and an appearance on popular Israeli satire show "Eretz Nehederet," where he participated in a sketch portraying an Oscars host delivering a monologue critical of Hollywood figures.

Rapaport's collaborations with "Eretz Nehederet" have amassed tens of millions of views globally. He recorded several episodes of his podcast "I Am Rapaport" in Tel Aviv, and his vigorous social media presence has reached audiences worldwide.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, Rabbi Moshe Hauer, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, hopes that the wartime premier will “really speak to the bipartisan consensus around Israel—that he will be able to bring together both sides around the existential struggle Israel is facing right now.”

Hauer told JNS that he hopes that Netanyahu will present a counter-narrative to the one that “has been peddled around and which is gaining far too much traction,” that Israel is the oppressor and the Palestinians the oppressed. 

Netanayhu should “tell patiently, convincingly, the story of the values which are being brought to bear by the Jewish people in response to this horrible, sustained attack on our very existence,” he said.

Matt Brooks, CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told reporters in Milwaukee last week that he also hopes that Netanyahu will “help shift public opinion back to the horrors suffered by Israel.”

“This is not a war that Israel wanted,” he said. “This is not a war that Israel started.”

Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), one of two Jewish House Republicans, told JNS last week that he thinks Netanyahu will address two points. 

“One is that Israel recognizes that the United States is Israel’s greatest ally, and he knows how the majority of the American people feel about Israel, and also feel about the Jewish people,” said Kustoff. 

The Tennessee Republican also thinks that Netanyahu “is going to continue to make the case that Israel and the United States must defeat terrorism down to its roots.”

‘Warmth’

Netanyahu need not come across as “mushy” or a “teddy bear” as he seeks to bridge Washington’s partisan divide with respect to the Jewish state, according to  Hauer. But the Orthodox Union leader is looking for “warmth” from the premier, he told JNS.

“He is completely capable of being very articulate and clear about the strength which America has led Israel to over time, and about the strength of their moral voice, and what a difference it has made to us,” said Hauer.

He cited the military assets that Washington provided Israel and the way that it backed the Jewish state in international fora in the opening days of the conflict.

“Yes, we wish some of the things that we asked from you would come faster and more completely, but there’s a pipeline for goodness' sake, and you have been providing for us, and we’re deeply appreciative of that,” Hauer said, channeling the tone he wants to hear from Netanyahu. 

Fruitful relationship

Speaking to reporters in Milwaukee last week, Brooks said that past Trump ire about his political rivals receiving credit—including Netanyahu’s routine congratulations to Biden after the latter won the 2020 election—was water under the bridge.

“I can assure you that he and the prime minister will have a very positive and productive working relationship,” Brooks told reporters of Trump. The RJC leader said that he has had conversations with both Trump and Netanyahu.

Brooks didn’t share details of conversations with Trump but claimed he could say with “absolute certainty” that the relationship, should Trump be re-elected, “will be productive, fruitful and pick up right where it left off.” 

Hauer asserted that the issue of concern over Trump’s reaction to praise for Biden in a speech could not simply be “cast aside.”

“This is a political season, and anything which he says is going to be used and reflected upon by candidates on both sides,” said Hauer. “I don't think it would be wise for anybody to put something like this aside for the day. To say that those considerations have to throttle him and has to stop them from being able to say clearly what ought to be said about America, about both sides of the aisle, I don't think it should get in the way.”

Antisemitism

Hauer told JNS that he hopes Netanyahu will devote more than just a “throwaway line” to surging Jew-hatred worldwide since Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack.

“It’s just a fundamental issue that we are dealing with right now. This is an issue which has to be elevated in the eyes of Congress,” said Hauer. “When such a prominent leader within the Jewish people comes before them, for him not to focus on it would minimize the issue—one of the core issues that Congress has to be dealing with around the Jewish people.” 

Brooks hopes one takeaway from the address will be that the United States and its close ally share a common foe.

“Israel is fighting against Hamas, and it is the same fight that affects America and the west. This is not an Israel-only issue,” he said. “Israel’s fight is America’s fight. America’s fight is Israel’s fight.”

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An Israeli drone strike in the Samaria city of Tulkarem on Tuesday morning killed five terrorists, including two senior Hamas and Fatah operatives, according to Israeli and Palestinian media reports.

Among the dead are Ashraf Nafeh, the commander of the local arm of Hamas's Qassam Brigades, and Muhammad Abu Abdo, commander of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

Earlier this month, an IDF soldier was killed and another seriously wounded by Palestinian terrorists in the Nur Shams camp, east of Tulkarem.

Judea and Samaria saw a dramatic rise in Palestinian terrorist attacks in 2023 compared to the previous year, with shootings reaching their highest level since the Second Intifada of 2000-05, per IDF data.

Since the beginning of the war with Hamas on Oct. 7, the IDF has carried out intensive ground operations in Samaria, arresting hundreds of suspects and dismantling terror infrastructure, including explosives buried under roads, intended to kill Israeli forces.

In June, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich urged immediate government action after Hamas terrorists fired across the security fence toward central Israel from Samaria two times within the span of a week.

“Terrorism must be eradicated everywhere, even if it means Tulkarem [in Samaria] will look like Gaza looks today,” said Smotrich, who oversees civilian issues in Judea and Samaria in the Defense Ministry.

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Democrats awoke on Monday feeling happier than they had in weeks. President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw from the presidential race relieved them of the burden of having to obfuscate the truth about a president suffering from an acute decline in mental acuity that they spent years denying and covering up. And by uniting around Vice President Kamala Harris as his replacement, they’ve ended their brief civil war about whether to give up on Biden.

But as a budding controversy about who should be the new Democratic vice-presidential candidate indicated, the left-wing baggage of Biden’s replacement may create new problems that will add to those of a campaign that still trails the Republicans, even without the burden of Biden as the nominee.

Though they have several practical reasons for eliminating any semblance of a democratic process by choosing Harris, tapping her for the nomination also raises some troubling questions about the present and future of the Democratic Party.

Tilting away from the center

The clearest sign that the Democrats were serious about defeating Donald Trump in 2020 was that they understood they needed to select a candidate other than the man who was the frontrunner after the early primaries: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). Rather than offering a socialist alternative to Trump, they needed someone who could be perceived as centrist and not beholden to the party’s increasingly radical left wing. The only candidate who could be presented in that way was Biden. And, despite his lackluster showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, the party closed ranks behind him.

That’s not going to happen now, even though Harris is no more popular than Biden and the polls show her trailing Trump.

But passing over her in a process that sought to come up with the most plausible moderate, and therefore the most electable Democrat, would have been impossible in a party that has married itself to toxic left-wing ideologies about race. Simply put, there was no way a Democratic Party that has adopted the woke catechism of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and intersectionality as among its guiding principles—and which looks to African-American women as its most loyal voter group—would even consider snubbing a woman of color in that manner.

To note this is not to denigrate Harris because of her race or gender. And her opponents this fall would do well to avoid any comments that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as prejudicial or misogynist. It should also be acknowledged that Republicans should also take care not to underestimate her. Her nomination injects new life into a heretofore dispirited and divided party.

She has been every bit as unpopular as Biden and flopped whenever she was given responsibility to solve a problem, such as the administration’s scandalous open borders policy. But the comparison with a man who had trouble completing sentences is flattering to her, even though it’s a very low standard by which to judge a potential president.

Her main asset is that she is now the candidate of a party whose voters actually believe the hyperbole they’ve been fed about Trump and the Republicans being a threat to democracy. Having an alternative other than Biden will stoke their enthusiasm as well as their desperation, even if she is also burdened by having to defend the policies of an administration that has failed at home and abroad.

But the problem with Harris is that her rise gives the Democrats a candidate further to the left than anyone, other than Barack Obama, whom they’ve nominated for president in the last 50 years. But, unlike Obama, whose rhetorical brilliance and political smarts enabled him to pose as a man who wanted to erase the divisions between red and blue America even while exacerbating them, Harris is not someone who can play that game. Despite occasional efforts to play the moderate, she is inextricably linked to those elements in her party that are pushing the country further apart with terrible ideas and policies that divide us by race.

Attitudes toward Israel

The clearest indication of this has been her attitude toward Israel.

It was an open secret in Washington that even in an administration that was staffed largely by Obama-era alumni, Harris was the most openly sympathetic to the Palestinians and the least inclined to stand with a Jewish state that had suffered the worst mass slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust.

From the start of the war that was launched by Hamas on Oct. 7, she has been careful not to go too far in denouncing Israel’s effort to defeat the terrorists in Gaza, but she has also repeatedly recycled Hamas propaganda about Palestinian casualties. Though left-wing Jews are already mobilizing to loyally vouch for her, her position is essentially one of moral equivalence between Israel and the people who committed murder, rape, kidnapping and wanton destruction on Oct. 7, while supporting a genocidal terror group bent on Israel’s destruction.

Take, for example, the instances in which she stood silent while being subjected to lectures calling for Israel’s elimination, or in which she expressed her sympathy and understanding for left-wing antisemites who turned college campuses into no-go zones for Jews.

She is guilty of doing exactly what Democrats falsely claimed that Trump did with respect to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. For Harris, these pro-Hamas demonstrators really are “very fine people.”

In addition, as Al Monitor has noted, she has a record of opposing an American policy that would get tough or punish the terror-supporting Islamist regime of Iran.

Just as troubling, she is the face, along with her Jewish husband, Doug Emhoff, of an announced administration effort to create a new national strategy for combating Islamophobia. The problem is not that such a plan follows an utterly toothless strategy against antisemitism that has failed to combat the surge in post-Oct. 7 Jew hatred.

It’s that the entire point of raising the utterly fallacious claim that there is an epidemic of prejudice against Muslims is to silence criticism of members of this group who engage in antisemitism. Almost all of what is labeled as Islamophobia is nothing more than taking note that elements of the Muslim community have been radicalized and support Islamist ideology and engage in open Jew-hatred and support for terror groups like Hamas.

This plays very well in places like Dearborn, Michigan, America’s “jihad capital,” to which the Biden administration sent envoys earlier this year to try to appease Muslim-Americans who were angry about the president’s on-again/off-again stance in favor of eradicating Hamas.

It also raises an interesting question about whom Harris will choose as her running mate.

Among the most promising candidates is Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro. The popular governor of a key swing state, Shapiro is politically moderate though reliably liberal on domestic issues. This makes him exactly what the Democrats ought to be seeking for the top of their ticket opposing Trump. But if that isn’t possible, he is a perfect running mate for Harris.

Is Shapiro’s religion a problem?

However, as CNN’s John King pointed out the day Biden withdrew, Shapiro’s religion might be a problem.

According to King, there were “risks” in nominating Shapiro for vice president because “he’s Jewish.”

King has been roundly denounced for this comment, but this criticism of one of the liberal network’s top political analysts (the ex-husband of CNN’s Dana Bash and the father of a Jewish child) is unfair. Though voicing it understandably raised some hackles, he was doing no more than stating the truth about the current state of the Democratic Party.

King was right that Shapiro may be simply too Jewish and too pro-Israel for a party whose principal worry is energizing a base dominated by left-wing Israel-haters. While there are still plenty of pro-Israel Democrats like Shapiro in Congress, much of the activist class of the Democrats has been indoctrinated in critical race theory, DEI and intersectionality, which all brand Israel and the Jews as “white" oppressors. As we’ve seen in the demonstrations on college campuses since Oct. 7, this grants a permission slip to antisemitism.

So, if Biden with his equivocal stance toward Israel was ludicrously labeled as “genocide Joe” by many in the Democrats’ intersectional base, one shudders to think what they’ll say or do at demonstrations at the party’s national convention in Chicago next month if Shapiro is tapped as Harris’s running mate.

Shapiro is a highly logical choice simply because the number of pro-Israel votes in the political center of a country still overwhelmingly favorable toward the Jewish state outnumber those of antisemites on the left.

But the Biden-Harris campaign has demonstrated all year that it was more worried about the latter, and there’s no reason to think Harris’s brain trust, which is decidedly to the left of those who advised Biden, will think differently.

Adding a vice-presidential candidate who is an unabashed supporter of Israel to the ticket will likely diminish the enthusiasm of a party base Harris needs if she is to have a chance of catching up to Trump.

Seen in this light, the Democrats’ biggest problem at this point isn’t Harris’s manifest shortcomings so much as it’s the way their adherence to woke ideology has put them in a box with respect to choosing candidates who might actually beat Trump.

In a year in which the unlikely and even the improbable seem to have become commonplace, no one should be making any firm predictions about the outcome of a Trump-Harris race. But unless and until they shed their allegiance to dangerous DEI myths, the Democrats are carrying baggage that could sink what is left of their hopes of winning in November.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him @jonathans_tobin.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Monday in Washington with the families of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, telling them that military pressure on the terrorist group was creating the conditions for their return.

The meeting, which included Netanyahu's wife Sara, took place on the day that the couple arrived in Washington, where the premier will address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a meeting in Washington with the families of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, July 22, 2024. Credit: Prime Minister's Spokeswoman.

"We are determined to return everyone. The conditions to bring them back are ripe, for the simple reason that we are putting very strong pressure on Hamas. We are seeing a certain change, and I think this change will continue to grow. We intend to do it—this is a war objective," said Netanyahu according to his office.

Twenty-three relatives of hostages, including 12 of U.S. citizens being held in Gaza, were at the meeting. Freed hostage Noa Argamani and her father Yaakov were also present, as were two soldiers who fought in Gaza in the current war against Hamas. Relatives who lost loved ones fighting in Gaza were also there.

Of the 120 hostages remaining in the Strip, 116 were abducted during the Oct. 7 Hamas-led massacre (the other four were captured earlier). The figure includes both living and deceased men, women and children.

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday confirmed the deaths of two Israeli hostages in Hamas captivity in Gaza. Alexander Dancyg, 76, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz, while Yagev Buchshtab, 35, was taken from Kibbutz Nirim. Both were captured during Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with the families of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in Washington on July 22, 2024. Photo by Amos Ben Gershon/GPO.

"This is an important visit that will give us an opportunity to bring to the representatives of the American people the importance of their support for the efforts we are making, together with them, to bring about the release of all the abductees—both the living and the dead," Netanyahu said during Monday's meeting, adding that he had been informed of the two hostage deaths.

The prime minister is expected to meet with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris separately during his Washington trip. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will likely be in attendance during the Biden meeting. Netanyahu is also reportedly seeking to meet with former president Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for the White House.

Netanyahu stressed that any ceasefire agreement with Hamas must not come at the expense of victory against the terrorist group.

"I am in no way ready to give up the victory over Hamas. If we give it up, we are in danger against the entire evil axis of Iran," the premier said.

"Regarding the deal—the conditions are maturing, without a doubt. This is a good sign, and the other sign is that we also see a break in the spirit of the enemy beginning. I believe if we stick with it we can get a deal. I say in advance that this is a process, unfortunately it is not all at once, there will be stages—but I believe that we can advance the deal and leave the levers in our hands to bring about the release of the others. This is the direction we are going."

Israeli delegation to depart for hostage talks on Thursday

An Israeli delegation is scheduled to set off on Thursday for ceasefire negotiations with Hamas, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced on Sunday night.

“Today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an in-depth discussion on the hostage issue together with the negotiation team and senior security officials,” according to the PMO statement.

The announcement did not specify where the talks would be held; previous negotiation rounds have been held in Doha and Cairo.

In a separate statement on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant commended Netanyahu for the decision to resume the talks.

“As a result of our military achievements during this war, the conditions have been created, and a limited window of opportunity has opened to establish a framework for the release of the hostages,” said Gallant. “The defense establishment backs you in your mission to bring about a deal.”

Netanyahu has publicly stressed that “in every scenario,” Israel will continue to control southern Gaza’s Rafah Crossing and Philadelphi Corridor, the 8.7-mile-long border area between the Strip and Egypt.

The premier’s red lines include the ability to resume fighting in Gaza until all war goals have been met; an end to arms smuggling from Egypt; no return of “thousands” of Hamas terrorists to the enclave’s north; and maximizing the number of living hostages released.

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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews announced on Monday two new funding initiatives to support IDF soldiers wounded in battle. 

One program funded by the allocation of nearly 2 million shekels (about $550,000) will help wounded veterans with food cards and purchases of clothing, electric appliances and accessible furniture.

The second project will provide for the distribution of support kits to wounded soldiers to help them during the time of hospitalization and rehabilitation.

“This war has exacted an extremely heavy cost on our younger generation with many thousands of soldiers, who dropped everything to fight on behalf of all of us, experiencing life-changing injuries,” said Yael Eckstein, president of the IFCJ.

“Beyond the current physical toll of these injuries, many of these wounded veterans will face lifestyle challenges that will make their rehabilitation and financial independence that much more difficult.  Our commitment, and the commitment of the hundreds of thousands of IFCJ donors around the world, is to ensure that we are addressing those needs and offering them the practical support they deserve in light of the incredible sacrifices they have made,” she added.

The programs are being implemented in partnership with the Friends of the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization.

"Over the years the Fellowship has been instrumental in supporting older veterans who were injured in previous battles and wars, and now we see this partnership benefiting the many injured soldiers, of all ages, whose lives have been so changed and will require extensive and ongoing periods of treatment, recovery and lengthy rehabilitation," said Adi Strauss, chair of the Friends of the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization.

Since Hamas's Oct. 7 massacre, the IFCJ has contributed more than $75 million to dozens of social and civilian defense efforts, including the installation of over 200 sheltered units in northern communities. The organization has also donated armored emergency response vehicles and millions of shekels in first aid and security equipment for local response teams.

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